Sad fete for Winchelsea

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Winchelsea’s annual summer fete has been scuppered by the decision of the organisers of Rye Country Show to move their event this year to the same day, August¬†13,and to a field between Winchelsea and Icklesham. The organisers of the Winchelsea fete felt their event could not compete with something on the scale of the Rye show and in such close proximity. The Saturday before and the Saturday after were ruled out because the village hall has been hired out for weddings.

Winchelsea fete organiser Jo Turner says that she has received an assurance from Rye show organiser Jenny Young that, next year, the latter will leave the second Saturday in August free for Winchelsea.

However, some residents of Winchelsea are not impressed that the Rye show organisers have shown so little consideration to other local events. Their disappointment is all the greater because Winchelsea has, over the years, been a generous supporter of St Michael’s Hospice, for which the Rye show raises funds. Indeed, over the last year, the current Winchelsea mayoress, Annie Spencer, has organised events which have raised over ¬£6,000 for St Michael’s Hospice. The Hospice was also a beneficiary of the Greyfriars Operas. The cancellation of the Winchelsea fete will hit St Thomas’ church, as this year’s event was intended to raise money for its roof.

However, the Winchelsea fete is itself not uncontroversial. The event used to be organised by the town’s Garden Society. When they gave up the event a few years ago, meetings to decide the fete’s future were held in secret, in order to exclude societies like Winchelsea’s Bonfire Boyes. An unelected committee appointed itself to run the fete. Since then, only general information has been made public on the distribution of profits and no accounts have been published. By last year, the fete had dwindled to a few stalls and has largely come to rely on a “Fun Dog Show”, teas, donated cakes and good weather to survive.

Photo: Richard Comotto

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